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Even two tough comics from New York City can still learn a lot from their grandmothers.
Tracy Soren and Jessie Jolles met while taking an Upright Citizens Brigade improv class, and have been performing and writing together since. One of their latest projects, Conversations with a Real Bubbie, is their most simple and greatest.
It went so well the two are in Washingon, D.C., working on a follow-up series with Jolles’s grandmother. The two emailed with the Daily Dot about filming the series, and their plans for the future.
What percentage of her advice do you take?
Jolles: I’m going to take 100 percent of her Tinder advice. It’s bullshit. I shouldn’t be doing it. I’m taking 0 percent of her marriage advice because If I did I would be getting married tomorrow.
Soren: I’m 100 percent with her saying it’s our body, our choice when it comes to sex. She knows I don’t agree with what she says when it comes to marriage. As you can see in the marriage video, she wants me to marry my boyfriend of five years (Matt, who was filming) and I don’t think five years means “it’s time” but I am used to her on my case.
How does Tillie feel about the final versions of these videos? Does she even watch them?
S&J: Tillie has watched all of the videos and simultaneously enjoys them and shakes her head. Honestly, she can’t really believe it. She’s never used a computer so she’s still trying to figure out how online sketch interviews work or how the majority of the internet works. We had to explain to her what the Daily Dot was. We said it was like reading the newspaper on the computer screen. We don’t know if that was the best way to explain it but we tried.
You seemed surprised she wasn’t into Adele. Was there any modern music she did like?
S&J: I mean who doesn’t like Adele? Bubbie doesn’t like modern music. She can’t understand what they are saying and doesn’t think they hold a candle to the singers of the past.
How has your family reacted to these videos?
S: My family was floored by these videos. They think they’re hysterical and capture my Bubbie’s opinionated spirit. They love that we shared my Bub with the world.
Has Tillie ever suggested a topic for the videos or do you always come up with them?
S&J: Bubbie didn’t know anything coming in. We had it planned out before. We don’t want to put pressure on our stars.
Do you plan to make more of these?
S&J: We do! We are in D.C. right now and we are going to shoot with Jessie’s memama.
J: “Memama” is a made up name for grandma. I didn’t realize it wasn’t a normal name for a grandmother until I was much older.
S: It’s going to be fun to show the differences between our grandmothers. They had different experiences so it’s interesting for us to learn from them. They also are hilarious, so the comedy is effortless.
A lot of the other videos on your YouTube channel are short sketches. How much of your dialog is scripted out and how much is improvised?
S&J: It depends on the video, but knowing how to write a solid script is important to us so we always want to make sure we are employing those techniques. We do, however, encourage a lot of fun improvisation when it calls for it. We are involved in all stages of the video so we found the more improv we do on set the more “writing” we will have to do in editing.
Comedians who make YouTube videos often seem to have funny ideas, but ignore things like lighting and audio quality. How important is that to you two and what’s your advice to peers?
S&J: We found people we love to work with and their work is a big reason as to why our videos have such high quality. We’ve learned so much from so many different people and avenues and we continue to try to learn to make the process smoother each time. Our advice is to find people who want to do the work and if you don’t have access to an artistic community, find your friends who would want to learn and do that work. There are so many people with cameras sitting around, not being used. There are ways to mess around with lamps or cheap lights to get great lightning. We’ve made some pretty interesting equipment out of nothing.
Sound is the bane of our existence and it can be extremely distracting if you don’t get it right. All hail people who understand sound. So don’t sleep on your sound production because it’ll haunt you.
What are you working on now that we can look forward to seeing soon?
S&J: We are in D.C. right now filming a one-take short film, and Advice From a Real Memama with Jordan Edwards. We have four episodes of our series Two Extras coming out soon. This is in addition to the first episode of the series where we inserted ourselves into The Fault In Our Stars as “extras” to comment on Gus and Hazel’s first kiss. We also have more of our character series Finn & Fran coming out. We are working with some companies to put out fun digital content and are looking to do more. Same with improv workshops! We do those for companies, camps, and groups and we have a blast. You can also Facebook us, find us on the street, ask our moms, whatever works.
David Britton is a writer and comedian based in Rhinebeck, New York who focuses on internet culture, memes, and viral news stories. He also writes for the Hard Times and is the creator of StoriesAboutWizards.com.